Part 10 – Second Star to the Right (Straight On 'Till Morning)

Disclaimer: Star Trek and the boys belong to Gene Roddenberry, who I am not. I am only borrowing them with the greatest respect, and promise to return them in (mostly) pristine condition.

A/N: Much thanks to the very talented NightTorchLight for her fabulous beta work which makes me seem like I'm actually good at grammar; it is much appreciated.

"Jim...this simple feeling is beyond V'Ger's comprehension. No meaning, no hope. And Jim, no answers. It's asking questions. 'Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?'"Spock to Kirk (Star Trek: TMP – also known as that fabulous scene where they hold hands).

"I have been, and ever shall be, your friend. Live long, and prosper." - Spock (Star Trek II)

Although James was aware of the fact that this conversation that would likely go better sitting up, he was loathe to relinquish the warmth and pleasure that laying beside Spock brought; the full body press of skin against skin. So he compromised, twisting in the warm embrace just enough so that he could face Spock. He curled his body slightly and brought one of his arms up to grasp Spock's hand, twining them together between their bodies. He pressed a gentle kiss to their joined hands, a pleasing mixture of coolness and heat, before he raised his head to meet Spock's eyes and said, after a deep and fortifying breath, "You're not dead, Spock."

His statement was met with a slightly bemused look, minute on Spock's face, but a clear indication that he was being humored. After a second Spock said, his voice lazy and unconcerned, logical but light, "I must be, James; there is no other logical explanation. You are dead, and so for me to be with you here now, I must also have passed on. Truly, my friend, if you have said such a thing because you are worried on how this should affect me I must tell you that death brings me no sorrow, for it has brought me to you once again."

There was a second where James simply could not speak; emotion, deep, twisted and churning caught in his throat and clogged it. "No, no, my friend, that is not what I meant, although the sentiment is... much appreciated. But what I meant was; I'm not dead either, Spock." Now there was a flicker of something more than amusement in Spock's eyes, but he forced himself to continue rather than become lost in them. "I didn't die on the Enterprise-B; instead I was trapped in an energy field called the Nexus. But I was alive, and I finally managed to get out and back to you. I think that was probably what made you go into pon farr, but I got here in time to foil your little 'I'm not going to mate with anyone else even to save my life' plan – which we are going to have words about later and don't think we won't -" and he shot Spock a look that he hoped was both fond and slightly stern, "And so here we are, both alive."

There was a moment of silence after he had spoken; long enough so that he began to feel the slightest feeling of worry creep into his bones, permeating his skin like a chill that couldn't be shaken. Spock's eyes were shielded now, no longer filled with that lovely, drowsy, post-coital contentment, and he couldn't read anything from them; glass that his gaze only slid over but could not penetrate, and the coolness was unnerving. The silence stretched so long, as Spock lay soberly beside him, that although James was loathe to interrupt whatever Spock was thinking, James' awkwardness grew so great that he had opened his mouth to speak (although he had no idea what he wanted to say) when Spock finally broke the silence himself, his voice now carefully and terrifyingly level. "T'hy'la... did you meet a man named Captain Picard in this Nexus?"

"Yes." He answered slowly, and because he was beginning to suspect that in this particular situation it was not him who held all the cards after all, he asked, slightly hesitantly (for he was relatively positive he wasn't going to like the answer), "How did you know that?"

Something that looked like the stirrings of understanding flashed through Spock's eyes at his hesitant question. It was a look that he was intimately familiar with, as it had accompanied many of Spock's greatest deductions which had saved their lives time and time again, but now instead of the fondness that he typically felt at that look there was only terror, because he had a feeling that what Spock had grasped was about to shatter the very foundation of his existence. After another moment Spock answered, his voice still too carefully logical for comfort, "I too met the Captain, although later than you did. Did you exit the Nexus with him?"

"No, I didn't. I wanted to, and for a moment I thought I had... but then he was just gone and I was still there," James answered, and at the look that flashed across Spock's face at his statement, he untangled himself from their embrace and sat up, only barely resisting the urge to wrap his arms around himself in an attempt to gather his courage. He laid them on the bed instead, flexed his fingers restlessly in the sheets until Spock too sat up. Then he asked the question he was relatively positive he didn't want the answer too. "What aren't you telling me?"

For a second there was a look in Spock's eyes - so heartbreaking that James nearly had to close his own eyes to stop the sheer pain that stabbed into his chest, sharper than anything he could remember - but then Spock opened his mouth and spoke, and James realized that he had been wrong, because this was far more agonizing. "Captain Picard shared his memories with me, after he exited the Nexus. They showed that he did not exit alone. You did leave with him, and helped him defeat Soran, the man who was attempting to destroy the Veridian system to enter the Nexus on Veridian III. However, you were... killed in the process, when a bridge collapsed on top of you. The Captain shared his memories with me afterwards, as he knew that you meant... a great deal to me and he believed that I would find comfort in your last moments of life."

There was a curious lack of sensation after Spock finished speaking. He wasn't aware of the concerned look that Spock was giving him; wasn't aware of the warmth of his skin as he threaded their fingers together again, nor the heat of the room. There was simply a numbness that filled him as he weighed what Spock had told him, a terrible buzzing sound in his ears as he considered the impossible statement that reached almost unbearable heights when his mind realized that, because it was Spock who'd said it, it wasn't a lie (not that Vulcan's couldn't lie, but Spock wouldn't, not about something like this). "No... you're wrong. I didn't leave with Picard. I stayed until I managed to leave and enter this universe. I didn't die – I'm right here, with you."

By the time he had finished speaking his voice was no more than a plea, and the tone of his own voice would have made him cringe in shame if he had not been so consumed by his sheer fear of what the implications of this new truth meant. He'd been so sure he had gotten out, so sure he had been in the real world again, and with the real Spock, but if the things he was saying were true, then he must have been wrong, and the despair threatened to crush him alive. The Nexus is improving, he couldn't help but think; there had been no fear jumping that horse but there sure was now.

"I'm still in the Nexus," he unnecessarily told the facsimile of Spock that he was sitting beside (and god, didn't that feel like having his heart ripped out of his chest), barely managing to keep the sheer hysteria that was starting to build in him out of his voice. "I suppose I should have known. This was all too perfect to be real."

"No, I do not believe you are," the lie whispered to him, so heart-breakingly earnest that it hurt his ears to hear it. The words were accompanied by the lightest touch of hands to his shoulder, but the knowledge that this was only a fantasy made the comforting gesture feel like iron weights were resting upon him, trapping him in place and stealing his breath.

"There isn't any other alternative," he told the echo, this fake Spock who he had wanted so badly to be real (had believed to be real, and the realization that he wasn't was impossibly crushing). "You believe I'm dead and I'm not, so you can't be real and if you aren't real, then I'm still in the Nexus." And then he laughed, cruelly and without mirth before he continued, "Maybe Bones was right after all these years; maybe I do have a masochistic streak. To want something that hurts this much can't really be considered anything else can it?"

It was mostly a rhetorical question, hardly even directed at himself, much less Spock, but Spock (not Spock, he had to remember that) seemed to be actually considering it, if the specific tilt of his eyebrows was any clue. After a few minutes of silence where not-Spock thought and James tried to memorize his face, so that he'd at least have something to remember when he disappeared, Spock (not-Spock, goddammit) raised his eyes back to James', and for a second they were absolutely, impossibly temptingly clear. For a second they weren't the eyes of a lie pulled from the deep recesses of his mind, they were simply Spock's eyes, as bright as they had been all of those years ago when they had mapped the galaxies. It was the look that Spock had gotten when he'd wrapped his insanely beautiful mind around something that the rest of them couldn't even have begun to understand; it was the look that had always preceded Spock saving their asses; it was the look that Spock had always given him when he told him he loved him (it was the most precious look he had).

"I believe I may understand what has happened. However, it is difficult to explain. If you would allow me to show you...?" Spock said, to break the silence, and as he trailed off he lifted his hand slightly, letting it rest tantalizingly close to James' forehead. Since James, still memorized by the tantalizing realism of those much beloved eyes, really didn't have anything to lose anyways, he simply nodded.

In response he felt the lightest of touches to his forehead, the slightest caress, softer than butterfly wings before he felt the shifting sensation of the meld. It wasn't a rush as it often had been, but rather a gentle slide, like walking through endless reams of silk, soft and cool, the fit seamless as he was slowly led back into the mind that he so desperately wanted to be Spock's. For a moment he simply floated in the feeling, soaked up every nuance of this beautiful lie before there was what felt like the slightest pressure all around him, gently guiding him towards what he needed to see.

There was another moment for him to float, to soak in as much of this as he could before the lie finally evaporated and then, without warning he was sunk into a memory and he was Spock and he was alone, younger than he was now, but older than when he had lost Jim. He was looking upon Captain Picard of the new Enterprise, who was telling him that Captain Kirk – his Jim – had died, not years ago as he had thought, but only a few days ago. Was telling him that he had left him alone in that place and he couldn't - wouldn't believe it - because that strange echo of a bond was still there, the one that had been there since Jim had disappeared.

Picard was offering him the opportunity to see for himself; to see the last moments of the man who had meant more to him than anything in the universe. So he reached forward, before he could even think of the consequences, and delved into Picard's mind to find any traces of his Captain that were there. Then he was in that mind and he saw - an observer on the outside who couldn't affect the events no matter how loud he screamed - Jim as he had been when he had left that fateful day to test the Enterprise-B. Saw him in their cabin, chopping wood; saw him ride his horse and realize that the world he was in wasn't real. Saw him leave the energy field, which Picard would later tell him was called the Nexus, with Captain Picard, saw him arrive on Veridian III and stop Soran. Watched, in agony, as he fell and the bridge collapsed on top of him, tried so hard to stop it but couldn't, only able to watch as he whispered his final words and his eyes closed for the last time, his last sentiment still echoing in his ears as agony bled through his veins at the realization that what Picard said was true; because he was Spock and he was alone and Jim was gone.


Suddenly James was himself again; back in the room with Spock's hand still resting on his forehead, moving slightly to create the lightest caress in a gesture that he imagined was intended to be comforting. However there was no comfort to be found because of what he'd seen, because those last words were such a him thing to say; so fitting that he nearly believed it, because that would have been exactly what he would have chosen for a last sentiment. But it still couldn't be right, because he didn't remember any of that. Couldn't be right because if he'd died, if he'd gone with Picard (which he hadn't - he'd wanted to, but then Picard had disappeared and James had been left in the Nexus - where he was now, a nasty little voice reminded himself; none of this mattered anyways, because it wasn't real) then couldn't be here, now alive and with Spock.

Then, the slightest brush of a meld, likely unintentional on Spock's part, and he was pushed for a second into a memory that Spock had received from Picard in what James knew, with a certainty that he shouldn't have had but did all the same, was an accident, a side effect of the transfer. The strange swirling of the world that meant the Nexus, a room with a Christmas tree and children who laughed as they played, smiled and called for their father to join them. A dark skinned woman with kind, slightly sad eyes, her voice soft as she spoke to the man he knew to be Captain Picard, "I can't come back. I'm already there."

In space there was no sound. Stars - and worlds themselves - died silently, no matter how big of an explosion they made, and the epiphany that hit him as he pulled himself out of that memory was similar. Destruction, utter chaos and ruin, but silent; nothing more than a soundless gasp that betrayed the enormity of what he had realized.

"I wasn't. I wasn't already there... because I was dead, so I could leave again," he said, nearly stumbling over the words. In his numbness, he wondered if they had even come out in the right order, almost choking over them as he continued. "I... left the Nexus and died on a bridge helping Picard stop Soran, but a part of me stayed and was able to leave again. I'm nothing more than a copy." Any feeling of relief from the realization that he had been wrong, that he had finally managed to escape from the Nexus, was drowned out by the terrible sickness of this new truth. It washed over him, and he pulled himself from Spock's grasp and continued, his words cutting off the protests that Spock was beginning to utter.

"I dreamed you in the Nexus, you know that?" he said quietly, and it was somehow neither a question nor a statement, simply words that we escaping him like air. "I did it with the others too, but it always came back to you." He wasn't sure he could meet Spock's eyes, so he kept his focus on the bedding, and continued only when he heard no response.

"I spent an eternity just looking at you before I realized that you, them, no one was real; they were just ghosts." Though he tried to keep it in, a desperately sad chuckle escaped his mouth and echoed sharp and brittle in the silence. "So I fought to get out; to see you and finally be able to breathe! How ironic; after everything, I end up being the ghost in the real world. I think I'd rather prefer being in the Nexus to this." He whispered, and knew it was only a half truth, because no matter how unreal he was, how incomplete he was, he'd still prefer to be with Spock, even though what he was now was so unworthy of him.

"No," Spock announced in response, voice sharp and as strong as steel, and Jim ducked his head further, not sure if Spock was refuting what he'd said, or simply his presence, equally terrified of both. Then hands, aged but so desperately familiar, cupped his chin and gently but firmly brought his face up so that his own hazel eyes met Spock's familiar and cherished too human eyes.

"No," he repeated again, and his hands held firm when Jim tried to turn his head again to escape that precious, penetrating look. "You are not a ghost. You are James Tiberius Kirk, who once captained the greatest ship in the fleet and saved more lives than any man I know. More importantly," he continued, hardly even stopping to take a breath in an effort to cut Jim off when opened his mouth to protest, "You are my life, my love and my t'hy'la. You are mine, and I will not allow anyone, not even you, to believe otherwise."

For a moment Jim felt his heart, which had previously plummeted, rise at Spock's declaration hope and love twining together with his unshakable trust in Spock to create a feeling that almost made him believe that everything was going to be alright (that he was a real person). But then, after only seconds of that incredibly intoxicating feeling, his heart promptly sank again as Spock turned minutely away, the corners of his mouth turning down into the tiniest frown. James thought he could almost see his happiness evaporate with that gesture.

"If anything," he began, and Jim braced himself for the hurt he was sure was going to follow, "it is I who am in the wrong." And then Jim sat dumbfound for a moment as he desperately attempted to change gears and process Spock's statement, but came up with nothing. Spock looked back at his face for a moment and then continued answering the question that Jim had not been able to even begin to verbalize, shame and grief coloring his voice. "I gave up on you, t'hy'la. I was so assured of your death that I consequently left you alone in that place, when you once stopped at nothing to bring me back to life."

"You couldn't have known that I was alive in there. It wasn't your fault." Jim stated, completely baffled at how they had gotten onto this topic, which could only be considered impossibly illogical. That fact that Spock somehow thought this was his fault could only be evidence that he was still dreaming this, even though the evidence proved that he wasn't and so he stayed speechless in confusion until Spock continued again, voice sincere but slightly pained.

"I should have – the bond never broke, not even when you died on the bridge. It was so quiet, like an absence of sound; still there but through glass, so that I could not touch it or feel it. But it did not break, t'hy'la – this bond between us is the same one that we forged the first time. It would not have survived if you hadn't been alive all of that time, and so it was my error in not realizing that you still lived, even after Veridian III."

"But..." James began, because really, this was just too absurd and too simple; because Spock was giving him an out, an actual honest to god chance at being a real person and having a real life when he'd thought that such a thing was impossible. It was too simple because there was no cost here, nothing to pay, and although James might not have been as cynical as his younger counterpart, he wasn't oblivious to the fact that things as good as this rarely came without demanding a pound of flesh in return. The freeness of the exchange (and the fact that he just escaped from the Nexus, which made him suspicious of pretty much everything) made him a bit wary.

However, Spock could clearly see the resistance on his face as he squeezed James's hand once in reassurance, before he said quietly, but with the utmost certainty, "No t'hy'la, no buts. The bond would not have survived your death on the bridge if you had not still been alive in the Nexus; this is a fact. And I do not believe that it would still exist if you were only a copy. The bond needs a mind, healthy and whole and human; needs your mind, and if you were anything less than your true self than it would die. That it is alive is proof that you are alive, alive and whole and real."

"But I'm not." He stated, because this was something that Spock just couldn't seem to see, and something that he felt he needed to, even though it was so tempting (god, so damn tempting) to simply accept the theory that Spock had developed. "Perhaps I have all of my... his... my memories from before, but I'm still only what was left over in the Nexus. Perhaps I'm complete enough to be a real person, but I'm still hardly more than an imposter. You deserve so much better than that."

He half expected Spock to pull away, to distance himself from him once he accepted the logic of Jim's statement; once he'd seen what Jim was now. He'd already braced himself for the coldness of that; of the look that would appear in Spock's eyes, not mean but simply not there; the cool logic that would cut through him like a blade. He had not, however, expected Spock to smile at him, just a hint of it in the corner of his mouth and move closer to him, squeeze his forearm in comfort before he said, "If you are an imposter, t'hy'la, then I must be as well."

He had thought that he'd gotten used to having the rug pulled out from underneath him, not only in this conversation but in his time as Captain of the Enterprise (because really, when had things ever gone to plan then?) but he'd clearly been wrong, because... this? This was like getting hit with a photon torpedo. It left his mind simply blank. There was no way that this was logical; this didn't even enter the realm of possibly making sense. Aware of the fact that he likely looked like he had been sucker punched, he couldn't come up with anything to say other than, "What...?"

"You seem to have forgotten that I am not who I was when meet – I died as well." Spock replied his little non-smile deepened further, although his voice remained sincere. In any other situation he might have been able to work up a little righteous indignation at the humor in Spock's voice and the fact that the dictation of Spock's voice reminded him of an adult talking to a particularly slow child, but now he was unable to do anything but soak up what he was saying like water after a drought.

It took him a moment for him to realize that there was nothing more was forthcoming from Spock. The shock was finally starting to wear off, and in its place a sense of confusion was creeping up (as well as the tiniest feeling of nearly hysterical bemusement because really, how on Earth – or New Vulcan, as it were – did this have relevance?). So instead of dragging Spock off to this planet's equivalent of a shrink (partly because he couldn't exactly throw stones in the whole sanity thing, but mostly because that would mean he would have to dress him and he was really enjoying the view) he simply settled for stating, in the calmest voice that he could manage, "But that's different."

The tiny not-smile on Spock face deepened even more so, his eyes crinkling ever so slightly with something so warm, making James' inside tingle like he was a prepubescent girl. When he spoke, however, there was no humor in his voice, only warmth and truth; an intoxicating mix that left James helpless to do anything but listen. "How so? I stored my memories in the good doctor's mind just as yours were stored in the Nexus. My body needed the Genesis machine to be restored and time for my memories to return, while you stayed whole in the Nexus. If anything, t'hy'la, you are more complete than I am. If you can accept that I am real, then you are left with no alternative than to do the same for yourself."

And then he paused for a second and he look grew impossibly tender before he said, voice gentle but unyielding. "Perhaps we are even; not who we were when we started, but together all the same.

It took him a second to absorb what Spock was saying, but once he did he was struck by the most wonderful calm as everything finally crystallized for him. In that moment, when the feeling of wonder had finally left his mind and he could think clearly, it occurred to him not only what the baser issue was here, but also the risk that Spock was taking here, because in the end it wasn't just his feelings that were on the line. This was his choice to take or to leave, not Spock's, and he so wanted to believe it, every fiber of his being wanted to accept it. And truly, the issue was actually relatively simple, because if there was one thing that he had always been, it was greedy. He'd sacrificed a lot in his career, but when it had come to things that had truly mattered (and Spock, since the very first moment, since "Permission to come aboard, Captain" had always been in that category) he grabbed them with both hands and refused to let go, no matter what. Although so many things, too numerous to list, had changed, this hadn't, and so since he could see that brass ring so clearly, just tempting him to grab it with both hands, he simply did. He smiled, letting it creep across his entire face until he almost feared that his face would split from the force, and said, voice finally clear of the terrible heaviness that had settled over him, "I should have known better to argue a matter of logic with a Vulcan. I never really even stood a chance, did I?"

"No, t'hy'la, you did not," Spock answered, and James took a second to drown in the relief glowing in his eyes, letting the feeling fill him until he was nearly bursting; took a moment to simply bask in the feeling of being alive, a sensation made only more heady by the fact that he hadn't felt it in so long. After a moment Spock slowly reopened his arms, an invitation that his Vulcan propriety still didn't allow him to verbalize, and James sank into them willingly, feeling as if the entire weight of the world had just been lifted off of his shoulders. He then fell back, trusting Spock to guide them into a comfortable stance, simply letting his whole body be surrounded by Spock's, letting the warmth of his body seep into his own. For the first time in a long time, he let himself close his eyes for a second, without fear of the world disappearing when he opened them again.

After a few minutes of simply enjoying the peace, he reopened his eyes and turned his head towards Spock, who was watching him with a look that encompassed both great relief and profound satisfaction (Spock had always loved to win an argument just as much as James always had). James smiled at him in return before a stray thought occurred to him, and in an effort to lighten the still slightly tense aura that lingered after their conversation, he asked lazily, "So I hear you met our young counterparts as well. What did you think of them?"

"They have a great deal of potential, both professionally and personally." Spock responded and James couldn't help but chuckle slightly at the fact that Spock could still use a company tone when he was stark naked, before he replied, humor clear in his voice, "I must say, that makes you sound rather conceited Mr. Spock." He smirked slightly as he deliberately left out the fact that he had thought the same thing (and that Spock's ass had not suffered with time, but he digressed).

"I'm sure I don't know what you mean Captain." Spock replied demurely. At the (adorable) contrast of the absolute dead innocence of Spock's voice and the sly twinkle in his eyes that revealed that he was anything but, James couldn't help but throw his head back and laugh, the sound loud, joyous and unburdened before he answered, "And I'm sure you're pulling my leg, Mr. Spock, but because I happen to love you, I'll let it slide." And then a humorous side thought occurred to him and he asked, after he had regained his breath from laughing, "Did you tell them I was an Admiral?"

Spock paused, only slightly in response before he answered, his voice gentle but strangely stilted, "I did not. You were always Captain to me, no matter your official title. And perhaps there are some things they should discover on their own."

Spock lapsed into silence after he had finished speaking and James to that moment to consider what he'd said, because he didn't buy it, at least not completely. The Captain part was true, yes, because Spock had always known him as well as – and sometimes even better than - he had known himself, and he'd always considered himself a Captain, but the other part wasn't, really. He knew, in the part of him that was so tightly intertwined with Spock that they could have been a single person, that Spock felt as he did; that they should allow their younger selves to make their own mistakes rather than the ones that they themselves had made - do as I say, not as I did - and allow them to grow into their own people; a feat that he imagined would require some conversation at some time in the future. So it was not that reason that Spock had not informed them of his former post as an Admiral. Rather he imagined it was a reluctance to talk of that time, full of loneliness where they had both tried to hide; Spock in the desert of Gol and he in San Francisco, pride and fear keeping them so far apart. It had been such an unnecessary waste of time - his one regret in their entire relationship, because they could have had so much more time together if they had not been so blind. However, this was not the time for that, when their conversation was finally lightening again, after it had been so hopeless, so instead he simply let the unsaid stay unsaid and responded, his voice full of poorly disguised mirth, "You didn't think they'd believe it, huh?"

There was a flash of gratitude in Spock's eyes, so fleeting that he could have imagined it, though he knew he had not, before Spock said, the tiniest hint of humor in his voice, "...That may have been a factor. Perhaps we can tell them together at a later time – for the scientific benefit of observing their reaction of course."

"That sounds like fun – it's a date, Mr. Spock." He chuckled, enjoying the opportunity to once again be the one humoring Spock instead of the other way around, and if the twinkle in Spock's eye as he answered, "Agreed, Captain," was any clue, then Spock wasn't against the return to their usual dynamic either.

After another few moments of quiet contentment, James couldn't quite hold in the yawn that hit him, but it didn't surprise him. Emotion was exhausting, and he had certainly weathered enough of that in a very short amount of time (and performed other tiring activities as well), so his sudden desire to close his eyes and sleep for a very long time wasn't odd at all. To communicate his intention to Spock (instead of just falling asleep on him without a word, which would be pleasurable but probably a bit rude), he turned his head towards Spock and said, "I don't know about you and your superior biology that leads to some of those fabulous 'Vulcan's need less sleep than humans, Doctor' fights – and don't even try calling them conversations because they were totally fights and you enjoyed every minute of them, you passive aggressive Vulcan – but my inferior human biology is demanding some shut-eye right about now."

"I too could rest." Spock said levelly, ignoring the rest of his remark, although the twinkle in his eye either expressed his humor or threatened some type of revenge (it was about a 50/50 chance, by his best estimate).

"We're in agreement, then - awesome," he deadpanned in response, before arranging himself into a more comfortable position (his head on Spock's shoulder, his body just touching Spock's - it was a position that they had perfected through much research and many years). After they were settled; the lights low, air comfortable, breath even and relaxed, he murmured, "Sleep well."

"You as well," Spock replied equally as quietly, and a pleasant silence followed for a few minutes, broken only for a second just as sleep was starting to creep into the edges of his vision, as Spock whispered into the darkness, his voice heavy with sleep and love. "You are real t'hy'la, of this I know, and you should never doubt. Who else but James T. Kirk could have defied the odds that you did to return to me?"

And at that James couldn't help but let out the tiniest chuckle and smiled into the darkness, because despite the fact that this was not Vulcan; that this was not even their universe, and that they were not who they had once been; he was with Spock, and so, against all the odds, he was home. At the warmth brought by that thought he shifted, so that he could rest his head gently against Spock's chest, and although he couldn't know it, in doing so he mirrored the position of two very similar men on the Enterprise who shared not only their faces and names, but their passions as well. As they finally surrendered to slumber, cocooned in the sheer perfection of the moment the universe, for only a moment, aligned, because in that moment, everything was as it should be.

And although it could not stay like that for long, as the universe was not a static entity, they knew they that no matter what tomorrow brought, together they would triumph.

But that... well, that is a story for another time.

Chief DiFalco: "Heading, sir?"

Kirk: "Out there. Thataway."

- Chief DiFalco and Kirk (The Motion Picture)


A/N: Oh thank god, it's finally done! Thank you to everyone who has stuck by me and continued to read while I wrote this, as well as extra thanks to everyone who took the time to write a review. I've both enjoyed the praise and the constructive criticism. On that note, I am still continuing to write Redefining Destiny as well as taking on a new personal challenge; I am trying to write a series of (smutty) one shots on all the famous K/S clichés (fuck-or-die, sharing body heat on a frozen planet, etc.) and I'd love some additional ideas, so feel free to review with clichés that you'd like to see me try and tackle. That said, thank you again and as always, feel free to review and I hope it was enjoyed.